There are many fine houses, palaces and stately homes in and around London that you should make a point of visiting while you are here, too many in fact to be able to schedule them all in to the one visit to the city. But if you are looking for a place to spend a few hours, soaking up the history and the style of a bygone era, pay a visit to Chiswick House and Gardens. The house is not merely a house it is a classically designed neo-Palladian Villa which is set amidst some of the most beautiful grounds and gardens in the city. Best of all, this peaceful haven from the past is only a stone’s throw from the heart of the city, located as it is in West London.
The house was constructed in 1729 at the orders of the Third Earl of Burlington, as a show house for his art collection. There are still many fine works of art on display today which give you an idea of how impressed the Earl’s guests would have been by their surroundings when they came here to dine of an evening. The Earl used the inspiration he found on his grand tour of Italy to design the building, especially the ancient Roman architecture that he encountered on his travels. The house is reminiscent of an ancient temple, a place of worship. But, it was not built to worship any deity but to admire an incredible art collection. It was never intended by the Earl that the house be used as a private residence, it was designed purely for entertaining and for housing his artworks and vast book collection.
The interior of the house has to be seen to be believed, with the walls covered in jewelled shades of velvet, with each of these stunning rooms coming together to open out onto the incredible domed saloon in the centre. The Blue Velvet Room has recently been restored and offers you an insight into the opulence that Chiswick House once exuded. Visitors to the house can explore all of the rooms to their hearts content, however if they want to unlock the hidden secrets of the house then a pre-booked guided tour of the building is recommended. While you are here be sure to watch out for the elegant lead sphinx and the unusual stone picture frames which date from the 1700’s.
Chiswick House Gardens
The gardens here have been popular for centuries. You will find hidden paths, secret architectural jewels and beautiful open vistas. Depending on the time of year you visit, you could be walking through tree blossoms, enjoying a blaze of floral colours or appreciating the wonderful hues of the autumn leaves. This is the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement and aspects of these gardens have appeared in garden design as far away as Central Park in New York. The gardens underwent an extensive restoration in 2010 and are now more beautiful than they have ever been.